Sunday 27 May 2018

Sad day for 'Er Indoors and TV fans as Minder's George Cole passes away

George Cole with his OBE
George Cole with his OBE

Dominic Harris

George Cole, the British actor best known for playing conman Arthur Daley on the long-running TV series 'Minder', has died. He was 90.

Cole's career spanned more than 70 years from his first stage appearance in 1939 and he appeared in more than 40 films, including 'Cleopatra', with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. From 1979 until 1994 he starred as the cigar-smoking, Jaguar-driving Arthur Daley on ITV's 'Minder'.

The show, which ran from 1979 to 1994, brought west London's criminal underworld into the living rooms of millions of homes up and down the country.

With 'Arfur' Daley spending each episode munching on cigars as he hatched another scheme to get rich quick, his long-suffering bodyguard McCann watching over his every step to shield him from the police, and fans always wondering who 'Er Indoors really was, 'Minder' was one of the most popular programmes of the 1980s, garnering around 17.5 million viewers at its peak.

Announcing Cole's death, agent Derek Webster, who represents Waterman, said: "It is with deep regret that I have to announce the sad death of one of our most loved and respected actors.

"George Cole passed away yesterday at the Royal Berkshire Hospital after a short illness. His wife Penny, son Toby and daughter Tara were with him at his bedside."

As the forever-scheming cockney "Arfur", always on the lookout for the next dodgy deal, Cole perfectly captured the ambitious, upwardly mobile spirit of the 1980s.

'Minder' eventually came to an end after 15 years and 107 episodes because Cole wanted to spend more time with his own 'Er Indoors - his wife Penny.

Waterman left the show in 1989, feeling that his character had run its course.

Gary Webster took over from Waterman in 1991 as Cole's sidekick for the final two series, playing Arthur's nephew Ray Daley.

Webster remembered Cole as a "comic genius" and "a fantastic guy to work with, a real genuine gentleman".

He told the BBC that Cole claimed he based his character of Daley on people he had known in London, and that it was a role he was "almost destined to play".

He said: "He made you realise that there is an Arthur Daley in every family and I think that is why the character was so popular - that so many people could identify with him."

'Comic genius'

Born in south London, Cole started working when he was 14, appearing in the chorus of 'White Horse Inn' in 1939. He starred with Alastair Sim in the 1941 film 'Cottage to Let', in which he played a resourceful evacuee from wartime London who unmasks a spy.

Sim, an older actor with an established career, took him under his wing and the pair appeared together in several films, including the 1951 version of 'A Christmas Carol'.

His role as the spiv Flash Harry in four of the St Trinian's films in the 1950s proved an early prototype for his Arthur Daley character.

Cole also appeared in some 30 plays and numerous television series, including 'Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color' in the US.

Irish Independent

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